Friday, September 04, 2009

Brown's lack of military knowledge on Afghanistan

Gordon Brown had just made a speech and taken questions on the war in Afghanistan. He addressed the equipment problems the military faces with the comment that the the counter insurgency must be 'won on the ground and not in the air'. Let us pause to contemplate the breathtaking stupidity of that comment. Air power in general and helicopters in particular are what is known as a force multiplier, that is they make the traditional 'teeth' arms of infantry, armour and artillery more effective by a factor. With modern air power this can be a large factor. So, suggesting that such a vital component of a modern force as air support, including helicopters, is in some way subordinate to or less important than ground forces is absurd. That would be true even if the government had lavished equipment on the troops on the ground, but they haven't done that either. Instead, we have had vehicles that convert into shrapnel when hit by improvised explosive devices and when their failings were pointed out Labour figures smeared whistle-blowers and senior officers instead of moving heaven and earth to give our soldiers the kit that they needed The army is only now getting vehicles that can survive IED explosions, despite the dozens of flag-draped coffins for the lack of them.

The PPS to the Defence Secretary, a former army Major, had enough yesterday and used his resignation letter to rubbish government policy on Afghanistan. Today, we found out just why things have been going wrong in this war. The man at the top doesn't have a clue.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

al-Megrahi business gets shabbier

So much for high moral purpose and compassion. It appears that the decision to free the Lockerbie bomber was at least in part to do with oil rather than doing the decent thing by a dying man. The Times has letters from Jack Straw that clearly show that al-Megrahi's fate has been in play in UK-Libyan talks for some years now. This despite undertakings given to the US that the man convicted of killing 270 innocent people in the skies above Scotland would stay in prison and serve his full sentence.

Now, Labour figures have been filling the airwaves to rebut the idea that there was a conspiracy to release al-Megrahi. The idea, they say, of the SNP Scottish government taking orders from Labour Westminster is preposterous. Well, framed in those terms they are right, but, of course, that is not how these things happen. This isn't some political thriller where the plot has to be packed into a couple of hours of screen time. What occurred is that the UK government systematically removed any percieved impediment to al-Megrahi's release. This left the desperately naive SNP able to indulge the traditional left-wing practice of doing things to feel good about their own moral superiority. A mix of duplicity and psychology, bear in mind that the SNP people and how they think are well known to Scottish Labour, and there you have it. More complex than a movie script perhaps, but equally effective.

Of course, Gordon Brown has also managed to damage himself further over this matter through the simple tactic of not telling us if he thinks the release of the terrorist was a good idea. With senior figures at home and abroad up in arms, including President Obama who was until lately Gordon's best pal, you would have thought that the British Prime Minister would have shown a bit of leadership. Gordon Brown is nothing if not consistent though, and he has consistently ducked hard issues throughout his entire career. So, Labour takes another knock, as does the SNP north of the border. This last may be most significant. On one poll, the SNP has dropped six points on this issue. That is very bad for them and some may be wondering if they were deliberately shafted by London, or if their shafting was merely seen as an added benefit in the trade deal.